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Studying How/Where to begin studying Quantum Physics?

  1. May 14, 2012 #1
    How/Where to begin studying Quantum Physics? Please Help!

    Hello, (Very sorry for the length, but please help!)

    I'm currently a grad student studying transnational security. Problem is, I'm worried that I've chosen the wrong field to study! Like all of you, I find quantum theory absolutely fascinating. I've decided to take this summer to study as much as I can about quantum physics, and from there decide whether or not I should go back and get a degree for it.

    I am hoping to get advice on where to begin. What types of math should I begin learning ? I only have basic knowledge (up to advanced algebra/geometry, etc.), so should I begin by first learning calculus?

    Also, I think it would be impossible for me to focus my time this summer studying quantum mechanics without first understanding the basics of physics, right? But of all these branches of physics, what are the ones I might be able to overlook for now (i.e., thermodynamics), and what are the ones most applicable, or most necessary for understanding quantum mechanics? Maybe I should start by...I don't know...finding a book on electromagnetism? Waves?

    Sometimes I wish I just had a mentor or someone that would help guide me through this process! Though, I suppose I wouldn't have this problem if I was to just study it in a university like everyone else. Anyways, I would really appreciate any help on this matter. I'm at the point now where I want to begin delving deeper into the actual...well...mechanics...of quantum mechanics. I know I have a long ways to go, but I really want to enjoy it as more than just a hobbyist. If someone is able to lay out a 1-2-3 type of plan (e.g., 1- learn calculus, 2- read this book and familiarize yourself with electromagnetism, etc.), I would be extremely grateful. Lastly, please excuse my ignorance in all of this... I'm not even sure if I'm asking the right questions here!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 14, 2012 #2
    Re: How/Where to begin studying Quantum Physics? Please Help!

    Start by learning as much calculus as possible. In the meanwhile, you can read books about QM and physics that are directed to the wider public that are pretty good. I recommend "Quantum" by Manjit Kumar and "The Big Bang" by Simon Singh. But I don't understand how you can be fascinated by quantum physics, but not by the rest of physics. You can't really understand much about QM without knowing some math, and you usually get there because you loved physics in the first place.
  4. May 14, 2012 #3
    Re: How/Where to begin studying Quantum Physics? Please Help!

    If you don't know any physics yet, I reccomend going through one of the "Freshman physics" books like Young & Friedman. They typically contain everything you need to begin seriously learning quantum theory and then some. After that you can start reading pure quantum books like Brandsten & Joachain.

    If you are learning physics as a hobby, you may want to learn the math as you go, or else it may be hard to see why certain concepts are neccesary. I think this a question of taste.
  5. May 14, 2012 #4
    Re: How/Where to begin studying Quantum Physics? Please Help!

    The best textbook i've ever seen is
    Principles of Quantum Mechanics by "Shanker"
    it's a very intersting and self consisting material
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